It was time to fly home. It is an inborn instinct to make the hazardous journey and follow their instincts and fly the path they know so well.
Yearly, many nature enthusiasts gather at the Tanjung Tuan Reserve, Melaka to look skyward as the migratory raptors (birds of prey) fly over this rest spot. They soar on the thermals to save on energy. Up, up and away to cries of oohhs and aahhs. The people down below 'inspect' them on their binoculars. Others shade off the sun's rays and scan the sky. Somewhere in the crowd are the bird counters. They keep a tally of the visitors and give us the grand total of our feathered friends. Facts and figures are important markers of conservation.
My husband, daughter and I made this special trip to be at the 11th annual Raptors Watch (13 -15 March) jointly organised by the Malaysian Nature Soc (MNS) and the Malacca state government. Kudos to them for this eco event which is proving to be an event much awaited in raising awareness on the conservation of raptors and their habitats and at the same time encouraging nature -linked activities around Tanjung Tuan Reserve.
The importance of Tanjung Tuan cannot be overstated as the headland is the closest landmass to Indonesia and Sumatra. Tanjung Tuan is ideally situated for the birds to have a stop over for rest and food before flying off north to their breeding grounds in temperate Asia.
We timed ourselves to be in there around 10 am as the best time to watch the raptors is between 11am to 3 pm. Not only were the birds there to wow us but an old friend, affectionately called Uncle Foo who taught me the ropes of birding was also there. Not forgetting, Ee Lynn, who was the livewire emcee . Imagine, having the honour to shout ( yes, shout !) out the arrival of the raptors.
Other booths like the Perhilitan Melaka kept us engrossed . Again, the conservation message rings clear - vote in the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 to replace the outdated Wildlife Protection Act 1972 for stiffer penalties to be enforced for poaching and wildlife crimes.
The spring raptor migration begins in mid February and lasts till April. So, come second week in March 2011, keep my fingers crossed, I'll be at Tanjung Tuan to see the birds homeward bound.
One of the' darlings' that visit us - Crested Honey Buzzard. Picture courtesy of Laurence Poh.
Other raptors include the brahminy kite, black baza, white -bellied sea-eagle, and more.
Celebrating birds on tee shirts
I bought a booklet on garden birds and am all the wiser knowing them now!
Volunteers with eager youths after the nature walk.
RAP it up! Birds rulz! We're backing you all the way!
Limbo low - it was also fun time. Good thing the birds don't fly so low as they are safer on higher ground !